The Bible and Its Translations
There is a grave misconception amongst non-christians that the Bible is no longer accurate as its meaning has been lost due to translation
First of all, let us understand why the Bible is translated. The Old Testament (OT) was originally in Aramic and Hebrew while the New Testament (NT) was in Koine (common) Greek.
How many of us are able to read in those languages? That is exactly why the Bible needs to be translated! It is basically so that people all over the world may be able to read the Bible in their native language
For example, in Malaysia, we have the bible in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, Tamil, and in the Iban language (a.k.a Bup Kudus). Without a Bible in a language understood by the reader, one may not be able to practice & profess his religion properly
After you have understood that, you may be wondering why then are there so many English translations? Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone used the same first ever English translation?
The explanation is quite simple. Over the years, certain English words like “jangling”, “subtil”, “privily”, and “holpen” are no longer used and need to be replaced by words of the same meaning that are understood by the reader
Although there are various versions of the English Bible, the different translations always use the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and texts as their textual basis.
For the NT, the New International Version (NIV) relied on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament while for the OT, the NIV looked into the Biblia Hebraica Masoretic Hebrew Text, Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targums, Juxta Hebraica of Jerome
Meanwhile, the New Living Translation (NLT) used the Greek New Testament (UBS 4th revised edition) and Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition in translating the NT, as well as the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with some Septuagint influence for the OT
If you are still unconvinced as to the accuracy and consistency of the Bible after translation, let us look into the popular verse of John 3:16 in different translations
1. New International Version
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
2. New Living Translation
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
3. English Standard Version
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life
4. Holman Christian Standard Bible
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
5. NET Bible
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
6. Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For God loved the world in this way: so much that he would give up his Son, The Only One, so that everyone who trusts in him shall not be lost, but he shall have eternal life.
7. GOD’S WORD® Translation
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life
8. World English Bible
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
So is the Bible inaccurate due to translation? Absolutely not! Although the Bible has been translated into many languages, the translation is done without altering the meaning of the original word used. No one who translates the Bible dares to change anything because of what is said in the Word of God
6 Do not add to his (God’s) words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar
2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll
19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll
In actual fact, the Bible is very much like the Al-Quran in the sense that has been translated into various languages. Everyone knows that the Al-Quran is originally in Arabic but did you know that English and Bahasa Malaysia translations exist?
On top of that, the different sources (e.g. Sahih International, Muhsin Khan, Pickthall, Yusuf Ali, Shakir, Dr. Ghali) have come up with transliteration of the Al-Quran. What is all this for if not for the convenience of the readers?
Similar to the Bible, I believe no scholar/organisation in charge of translating would dare to alter the meaning of the original word for fear of divine repercussions
*Featured at The Malay Mail Online